In a development that will alarm large numbers of employers, September 1st saw the prestigious London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) have its tier 2 and tier 4 sponsor licences suspended for a second time in the space of a year. Last year LSBF was amongst 57 privately managed education providers to its status suspended, although on that occasion its licence was quickly re-approved.
LSBF is part of an umbrella organization, Global University Systems that took control of the University of Law in June this year. In line with the now standard procedure LSBF was given just 20 days to appeal against the latest tier 2 and tier 4 suspensions.
Needless to say in an organization as large and complex as LSBF, which was responsible for £56 million in student loan fees in 2013-14, assembling the necessary evidence is no easy matter. However, LSBF were quick to stress that the points of contention were matters of administrative detail and that it was confident that its appeals against its tier 4 suspension and tier 2 suspensions would both be upheld.
The wider concern arises because of the continuing scrutiny of an organization such as LSBF. It appears that a successful appeal to a tier 2 suspension notice counts for little more than a temporary clearance to continue employing staff from overseas. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that UK Visas and Immigration staff are targeting particular businesses and business sectors.
For those who do successfully manage to appeal a tier 2 suspension (a more widespread and commercially applicable visa than the tier 4 student equivalent) it appears that the commercial disruption involved in defending their workers and their business is not a one-off experience.
Whilst government rhetoric as well as its practical attempts to limit the number of migrants to the UK continues, employer organizations are insisting on the need to hire skilled workers from outside the UK. As the LSBF case makes clear the present situation is far from satisfactory.